MY HEALTH STORY IN BIRMINGHAM
Obesity in Birmingham is on the increase. Too many people are overweight and leading an unhealthy life-style – particularly in my area of Small Heath. Unfortunately I was one of those people.
In 2006, whilst working in customer service, my diet started to decline and continued so for another four years as I took the path towards an unhealthy lifestyle.
Throughout that period my diet consisted mainly of sweets and fast food… chocolate, cola, crisps, fried chicken, chips, kebabs… this is what I was eating every day and I never realised how it was affecting my health.
Living in Birmingham didn’t help either. Too many fast food outlets! Cheap and cheerful food… and very little effort involved apart from jumping into my car. That’s what I liked. Who needs the hassle of cooking, I thought?
Fortunately, Birmingham City Council realised that this way of thinking was a major health problem so, in January 2010, they decided to introduce a free health and fitness scheme in my local leisure centre.
To my mind this was a great idea because, due to the cost, previously I’d only visited the centre occasionally and, to be honest, at the time I thought I had better things to spend my money on. Now I’m able to use their facilities for free, including the gym and swimming pool.
I then felt it was time to get a health check to determine how fit (or otherwise) I really was. My weight had increased from 14 stone to 17 throughout the four years working in customer service and the results from my blood test certainly shocked me.
My doctor stated that if I continued with my present lifestyle then I would almost certainly be diagnosed with diabetes in 12 months’ time.
This was a turning point for me and I realised that my life had to change and that a plan had to be put in place to enable me to do just that.
I confided in a friend what I had been doing over the last few years and what I was hoping to do now; he was a great encouragement and he got me to go swimming with him.
I felt that this helped me on the road to recovery and I was motivated and did not give up. Due to the health scheme, I decided to continue with swimming and change my diet dramatically to reduce my weight and lead a healthy lifestyle.
But the question I had to ask myself was whether this scheme was enough. I felt that I had to pursue a hobby and other interests that would increase my chances of a healthy lifestyle. I was interested in playing tennis so I joined a club and have been playing ever since. I’ve now reached the stage where I’m able to play on a more advanced level and now I regularly enjoy playing community tennis every Sunday.
I also developed a sense of adventure for the great outdoors and, together with my friend, I now do regular hiking trips throughout the UK.
I’ve continued to do this and, a year on from my blood test result, I’ve turned my life around. I’ve lost 2 stone so far, but it’s coming down all the time.
I’m now at the age of 30 but I’m in great shape and feel more like I’m in my early twenties. I’ve changed as a person. I have a lot more self-confidence, I look forward to every day and the future looks a lot brighter!
My diet now consists of a high fibre breakfast cereal, fruit, vegetables, wholemeal foods such as wholemeal bread and pasta. I do have the odd treat at weekends, but I now watch what I eat on a daily basis.
I’ve also recently joined the gym and I feel this will help me continue to lose weight and keep healthy. I can only look forward now and continue to stay on the path of healthy eating and I’d encourage anyone who is reading this to go to your local leisure centre and sign up for the health fitness scheme.
I’d also advise you to go to your local GP and have a health check up, find out what the status of your health is. Also encourage your friends and family and do this before it’s too late.
I do hope that I’ve encouraged you to do the same and please do put a plan in place like I’ve done, you will then get yourself into a routine, and you will change as a person and feel happier in life.
By Shakeal Ahmed.
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